In 2008, Nimrod Shapira Bar-Or broke new ground, so to speak, for Israeli swimmers when he became the first Israeli to compete in an Olympic swimming semifinal, the men's 200-meter freestyle.
Four years later, the 23-year-old Jerusalem native is back to see how much further he can go.
Shapira Bar-Or is one of five Israelis set to compete in swimming events at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, as he will return to the 200-meter freestyle competition. In the years since he competed in Beijing, Shapira Bar-Or completed a successful collegiate swimming career at the University of Arizona, where he was a two-time NCAA medalist with the Wildcats' 800-meter freestyle relay team while earning a degree in Management Information Systems.
Shapira Bar-Or won't be the only Israeli returning to the Olympic pool. He'll be joined in London by Gal Nevo, the Israeli record-holder in the 200-meter and 400-meter individual medley events as well as the 200-meter butterfly. The 25-year-old Hamadia native will compete in all three of those events in London.
There will be a third familiar name in the Israeli swimming contingent, although it's not a name that's ever been officially mentioned in Olympic Competition. Imri Ganiel is the 20-year-old son of Amir Ganiel, an Israeli record holder and champion freestyle swimmer who wound up missing out on the Olympics when Israel joined the US-led boycott of the 1980 Summer Games in Moscow. The younger Ganiel will get the chance to fulfill his father's dream by swimming in the Olympics this summer, swimming in the 100- and 200-meter breaststroke events.
The youngest Israeli swimmer in London will be 19-year-old Yakov-Yan Toumarkin, who will swim in the 100- and 200-meter backstroke events. He heads to London as the Israeli dual record-holder in the 200-meter event, with a time of 1:53.46 on the short course (25m pool) and 1:58.21 on the long course (Olympic-standard 50m pool).
On the women's side of the competition, one Israeli will compete: 23-year-old Amit Ivry. A native of Netanya, Ivry will compete in the 100-meter butterfly and the 200-meter individual medley. She earned a bronze medal in the butterfly at this year's European Championships, and is aiming for a similar achievement in London.
J-Connection: Nimrod Shapira Bar-Or, Gal Nevo, Imri Ganiel, Yakov-Yan Toumarkin and Amit Ivry are all Jewish.
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